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A friend of mine has a therapy dog, to help him with his depression and anxiety.  When I first heard about this, I was kind of surprised.  I knew that therapy dogs went to hospitals and senior residences and places like that, but I had no idea that a person could own a therapy dog and take them into restaurants, shops, and other commercial spaces.

Therapy dog doing wonderful stuff.

It makes sense to me.  I’m the proud owner of 3 dogs, and I’m absolutely aware of the calming effect they have on me (when they aren’t howling up a storm – you should hear them when all 3 of them start howling together…).

Apparently the medical establishment knows of these effects, too.

After a bit of research, I found out that dogs have more than just a calming effect of people; petting a dog will actually lower your blood pressure, ease anxiety and relieve tension in muscles.  Documented studies prove it.

Petting a dog will lower your blood pressure.

As a dog owner, I was very pleased to hear this.

Being an entrepreneur has its own stress-related problems.  An entrepreneur is always making decisions and changing events and meeting new people.  All of these activities come with their own dose of stress.  And as a dog owner, there’s nothing like coming home to pets that are always thrilled to see you come home.

Usually at night I pop in a film into the dvd player and settle down in surround sound to occupy my time.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I’m addicted to Harry Potter films, and I watch them over and over.  But I’ve been known to watch other great films like Avatar, Bolt and Lord of the Rings, too.  Anyway, each night I settle into the couch and watch a film with my dogs.

These evenings serve us all well.  The dogs get incessant petting while I get the stress relief that comes along with being at peace with animals you love.  And apparently, I’m also lowering my blood pressure and relieving stress in my muscles, too!

Okay I’ll be the first to admit that being a dog owner is not all stress relief.  As I mentioned, when they begin howling it can be a bit trying on the nerves.  Not to mention the barking at strange vehicles in the road out front.  Since they know all the regular vehicles on our dead end street out here in the country, they get really annoyed when some unknown vehicle is visiting the neighbours.  They’ve finally stopped barking at the birdies coming to the bird feeder thankfully, since the bird feeder is right outside the living room window.

Nevertheless, there are great rewards from owning a dog.

It really is true that your dog is your best friend.  No one else in their right mind would put up with all of my idiosyncrasies and stick around to tell the tale.  For example, I don’t sleep well, and I’m often up most of the night.  The dogs just take it in stride and get up with me so that I can sit on the couch and pet them ’til all hours of the morning.  Who else would put up with my nocturnal wanderings around the house?

My nocturnal wanderings...

All three of my dogs have very different personalities from each other.  Molly is the eldest and the first of the three to come into my life.  I picked Molly up from a previous owner who was unable to care for her properly.  She was only four months old when I picked her up that day.  I held her close as I walked the down the block to my own apartment (I was still living in the city at that time).  She nuzzled close to me, pushing her nose up under my chin and licked me ticklishly.  She grew into a beautiful English-Setter Border Collie cross, with an independent streak and a gentle soul.  When she kisses you she is incredibly gentle, and she loves spending long days in our huge backyard.

Molly

Dobby is my second dog.  She’s a fierce fighter who plays rough and hard because she doesn’t know her own strength.  She’s incredibly clumsy, and she is completely devoted to my every move.  She’s a German Sheppard Black Lab cross, and she’s an incredible watchdog.

Dobby

Rocky, my last puppy, is Molly’s offspring.  He’s a funny little guy, and never tires of teasing the other two dogs by biting their hind legs and stealing their bones out from under their noses.  He’s a bit of a holy terror around the house, with a mouthy streak in him when he gets to barking back at you during discipline times.  He’s the one who always starts howling first, and he loves to howl.  When I’m visiting my neighbour in his back yard and they hear me talking, he always starts to howl like he’s the saddest puppy in the world.  It really would be heartbreaking if it wasn’t so funny.

Rocky

To be a therapy dog, the dog has to be well behaved, be able to sit on command, be good with strangers and other dogs, and other kinds of things like that.  That’s if you want to take them around to hospitals and hospices and places like that.  But if you just want to have a better life, then your own quirky dog could be the best therapy you could have.

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